FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2003 09:15 HABEEB HITS: 1719
In expressing heartfelt “ancestral respects” during Black History month, we must be amply reminded of the pervading Black presence among the Muslim of Americas. Reechoing the Arabic call of prayer, these Muslim Faithfuls travelled to the West as early as the 6th Century. From the two Companions of Afriki Arabia to the explorers of Mansa Musa, Mali and ranging from the Moorish architects of Muslim Spain to the Amirs of Fula and Yoruba, Muslims of African descent have profoundly impressed their presence, Having equally contributed to civilization here, they have established an unbroken chain of Islam and Science even before Dark Ages.
The recent phenomenal reversions of Blacks to the Faith of Ethopian Najash, could be explained as not trendy or social pressure but a “Return to Roots”: an Allex Haley-Kunta Kante phenomenon.Â As a mobile student of Life and History, the inconspicous mosaic, geoculturally, makes the claim self evident. From the Moorish buildings in Mexico facing Mecca; Columbians with names as Umar and Ali; Dominica laced with the Garifunas who spoke Arabic; Boukman of Haiti who was the ‘man of the Koran’; Cuffy Revolutionists and Jamaican Maroons celebrating victory with Jumuah prostrations to the erudite Elijah of Nova Scotia and carnival swordfighting of Brazilian Bahia, all bedeck a millenium of civilization and science, with slavery only a bad patch in between.
The Black Loyalists nicely admitted that not only our forefathers came from West Africa but ‘from the 500’s to 1600’s the three West African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were rich and powerful, their economic life revolving around agriculture, manufacturing, and the international trade of gold.’ That was the Muslim Empire of Timbuckto- a name that most West Indians ignorantly attribute to dunderheads today!
The sequential findings of historians in this regard support the claim that being Black and Muslim today isn’t a mere fashion. Inasmuch as we appreciate the struggles of plantation slavery and emancipation-movements, recognising that people need to rejoin their roots, that of Sunni Yoruba, Fulani and Liberia inclusive, must not be underestimated. Connectivity to the past holds a rope to the future. AbdurRahman was one such link. After being in Dominica in 1835, US and Canada he made his way back to Freetown- check the Ontario cityhall exhibits for the Arabic titled photo of him! Dr AbdulHakim Quick takes us into a journey of journals where he researches the memoirs of Belize Masjids in his Deeper Roots. Dr Van Sertima surely alludes beyond Afrocentricism in They Came Before Columbus, where he unequivocally points to the scholarly Moors establishing machines and gadgets, e.g. Elijah McCoy and the lubrication system. Cheikh Anta Diop smilingly reminisce our strong sense of civility and rule as he recounts the Mayans were of Negroid stocks-sharing prototype DNAs.
Strange enough, Spanish for both Mosque and Pyramid is Mezquita. Archives and oral traditions abound in the Caribbean, a cache of history lost in the bachannal of foklore and soca. Passing on the legacy of who we are would make Brother Bob smile-“know your history know yourÂ identity.” Guyanese Muslims, predominantly Indians, were once called Fulaman, since the Fula tribesmen were indeed Muslims. Black Syrians in Cuba still speak a spattering of Arabic with creole Spanish- Ole’ is Allah.
In recognising the hardships and inhumane injustices our great grand parents suffered, let us not forget that theirs was a struggle consistent with Prophet Muhammad and his fraternity of before, On Whom Be Peace. Like Malcolm X, inspired into Malik Shabazz, millions of the daughters and sons miraculouly continue to relive that tradition intrinsically. In 1838 Lord Madden learnt the same from the Maroons in Accompong and their undying allegiance to Uthman dan Fodio’s call, a Shehu who weilded power from as far as Africa in the 19th Century. As a matter of fact , the first settlers of free Black Slaves entered Canada in 1700 from the South, believing this was the proverbial Canaan- the land of the Musa-Israelite Exodus. Nothwithstanding the strong acculturising culture, the Negro Nannies stood strong in their long dresses and head tie- the symbolic Hijab- survived as the uniform of the Baptists.. They trained their children to such ettiquete as ‘wash the hands and the feet before sleeping’- the Islamic ablution known as Wudhu.
The pride of Black achievements stems the psychological humiliation of being associated with the “media painted” poor and violent Africa. Although, parallely speaking, its innate motivation to know that my culture and roots lie in the resemblannce of Hannibal and Tariq – the great conquerors of Berbers. Such info empowers the chipped future for independent religious thinking and unbiased Black scholarship. Dr Ali Ali Mazrui repeatedly proves that the imperialism imposed after the European intervention was synonymous with tyranny and “enslavement by Signature” – something that the Quran abhors with six unambivalent verses. Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves why the 35% Muslim of the 50 million West Africans, trafficked to the New World and produced the likes of Simone Bolivar of Venezuela and Mohamed Sesei of Trinidad, aren’t historically and logistically discussed in history lessons and Afrocentric seminars, even until today.